World record heart disease reversal

A quick but important note.

Track Your Plaque Members:

Keep your eyes on the Track Your Plaque Member website for details and images of our most recent huge success story. Track Your Plaque participant, Neal, dropped his score more than anyone else before.

Although reduction of heart scan score is an everyday event around here, a 51% drop in score deserves to make news!

We will post the images of Neal's heart scans on the Member website in the coming days.

Dose of fish oil

Dosing for fish oil is a perennial point of confusion. However, it's quite simple.

The active ingredients in fish oil are DHA and EPA, the so-called omega-3 fatty acids. Of course, if there's anything else in your capsules, such as omega-6, omega-9, or linolenic acid, these should not count towards the sum of EPA + DHA, since they do not exert the same benefits as the omega-3s.

The basic suggested starting dose for the Track Your Plaque program is 1200 mg of EPA+DHA. This is usually provided by taking 4 x 1000 mg capsules of fish oil, providing 180 mg EPA, 120 mg DHA per capsules, for a total of 1200 mg EPA+DHA.

About a third of people, however, will require greater doses of omega-3s to reduce triglycerides, VLDL, and/or intermediate-density lipoprotein (IDL). Most people will do fine with an increase to 1800 mg EPA+DHA, usually provided by 6 x 1000 mg standard capsules. A very occasional person (about 1 in 100) will require even higher doses.

If you ever decide to change your fish oil preparation, or if you change to a more concentrated form or another form such as liquid fish oil (e.g., Carlson's), paste (e.g., Coromega), or syrup (e.g., Pharmax Frutol), then you will need to examine the label to determine the dose of EPA+DHA. If, for instance, a teaspoon of liquid fish oil provides 360 mg EPA and 240 mg DHA, that's a total of 600 mg omega-3s per teaspoon. If your EPA+DHA dose is 1200 mg per day, then two teaspoons a day should provide it. Always adding up the EPA+DHA content of whatever preparation you choose will therefore allow you to mix, match, or change your dose whenever you like.

Niacin scams

As most of you know, niacin (vitamin B3) is an important tool for many in the Track Your Plaque program.


--raises HDL cholesterol
--reduces small LDL
--reduces lipoprotein(a)

And it's the most potent agent we have for all three patterns, despite just being a vitamin. Niacin also reduces LDL cholesterol, VLDL, IDL, triglycerides; reduces heart attack risk dramatically either alone or in combination with other agents.

Unfortunately, some people who are either afraid of the "hot flush" side effect, or experience excessive degrees of it, have resorted to two preparations sold in stores that have none of these effects.

Most notorious is "No-flush" niacin, also known as inositol hexaniacinate. This compound is an inositol sugar molecule complexed with 6 ("hexa-") niacin molecules. Unfortunately, it exerts none of niacin's effects in the human body. No-flush niacin has no effect on HDL, small LDL, or Lp(a), nor on LDL or heart attack.

In short, no-flush niacin is a scam. It's also not cheap. I've met people who have spent hundreds of dollars on this agent before they realize that nothing is happening, including a flush.

Likewise, nicotinamide does not work. It sounds awfully close to the other name for niacin, nicotinic acid. But they are two different things. Like no-flush niacin, nicotinamide has no effect on HDL, small LDL, Lp(a), etc.

Though I've discussed this issue in past, somehow these two "supplements" seem to sneak back into people's consciousness. You walk down the health food store aisle and spy that bottle of X-brand No-flush niacin, promising all the benefits of niacin with none of the bother. Then you remember that rough night you spent a few months back when the hot flush lasted longer than usual. That's when some people end up buying this agent making extravagant--and false--promises.

For now, for all its imperfections, niacin is still a pretty darn good agent for these patterns. Remember that the best strategy to minimize the hot flush effect is to drink plenty of water. We generally recommend taking the dose at dinner along with water. If the hot flush occurs, drink two large glasses of water (total volume 16-24 oz). Nine times out of ten, the flush is gone. It also dissipates the longer you take niacin.

Media mis-information

This is an excerpt from a popular health website,

A Cholesterol-Busting Vitamin?
Did you know that niacin, one of the B vitamins, is also a potent cholesterol fighter? Find out how niacin can help reduce cholesterol…

Niacin is safe — except in people with chronic liver disease or certain other conditions, including diabetes and peptic ulcer. It is also inexpensive. However, it has numerous side effects. It can cause rashes and aggravate gout, diabetes, or peptic ulcers. Early in therapy, it can cause facial flushing for several minutes soon after a dose, although this response often stops after about two weeks of therapy and can be reduced by taking aspirin or ibuprofen half an hour before taking the niacin. A sustained-release preparation of niacin (Niaspan) appears to have fewer side effects, but may cause more liver function abnormalities, especially when combined with a statin.

Many people begin treatment at low doses (250 mg twice a day, for example) and, over six weeks or so, gradually build up to an amount that lowers lipid levels, anywhere from 1,000 to 2,500 mg split between two doses during the day. This gradual approach may help build tolerance to side effects such as facial flushing. Although niacin is available over the counter, you should not use it in quantities sufficient to lower cholesterol without a physician’s supervision. It is important to test liver function and levels of blood sugar and uric acid before beginning niacin therapy and during the course of treatment.

(Bold emphasis mine.)


After an enticing headline, the article goes on to scare the pants off you. It also sounds like accurate information, delivered in an unbiased way, cold and straight.

If we were to use niacin this way, it would indeed be intolerable for most. Do not follow the above nonsensical advice. But that may have been the intention from the start.

Very telling are the fact that, both above and below the article were colorful advertisements for Lipitor, complete with Dr. Robert Jarvik’s (inventor of an implantable mechanical heart) soothing, professorial image.

Did they want to bait us with promising information about cholesterol and niacin, only to throw water on our fire and steer us towards something else?

That would be typical drug company marketing.

All in all, I’m grateful for the attention the media provides for health issues. Perhaps many people wouldn’t even be aware of niacin and other healthy strategies if some website, newspaper, or magazine article hadn’t talked about it.

But I do worry about bias. Was this an unbiased report? Or was it more like much of the physician-directed mail I receive, cleverly concealed propaganda from the drug manufacturers? Who wrote it? No author is listed. Could it have been ghost written by someone in the drug company itself, or an arm of the drug company? That’s a very common practice for the literature physicians receive, glossy, high-class materials paid for by drug companies, written by drug company-owned companies, but no company logo or name listed.

My point: Be skeptical of what the media tells us. There’s usually a good deal of truth in the reporting, but there’s also often just enough mis-information or slanting of content to make you behave or believe a certain way. “If niacin is this dangerous, maybe I really should take the Lipitor.”

A dirty little secret

Here's a dirty little secret many people don't know about.

If I implant a stent, I might get paid somewhere around $2000 for the heart catheterization, stent implantation, femoral artery closure device, hospitalization charges. That's not too bad.

But what if I'd like more? What if I'd like to squeeze this unsuspecting patient for more, or actually his/her insurance company?

Easy: Add on complex procedures to the basic procedure that yield more professional charges. For instance, I could perform laser angioplasty, a procedure that adds another couple thousand dollars. I might pull out the old rotational atherectomy device, a high-speed diamond tipped drill that also adds substantial professional charges. I might also use the intracoronary ultrasound device, an otherwise helpful device, but I might pull it out to use on everybody.

With the exception of ultrasound, all the "add-on" procedures were more popular in the early and mid-1990s--before they were shown in clinical studies to provide no advantage, perhaps even add to procedural risks.

Thus, a patient might undergo a heart catheterization, balloon angioplasty with stent implantation into the proximal left anterior descending coronary artery (LAD), followed by laser angioplasty of the mid-LAD, followed by intracoronary ultrasound of the vessel. Next, rotational atherectomy of the circumflex, followed by stent and ultrasound. Total charges for this 2-3 hour procedure? Somewhere around $8000 to the cardiologist. Of course, hospital charges are far more.

Ironically, patients are invariably impressed. Hearing that they went through all sort of high-tech procedures makes them grateful for receiving the benefits of the skills of their cardiologist. Of course, they would like have done as well with a far simpler procedure. Perhaps they didn't need the procedure at all.

If the excessive use of procedures and devices fails to benefit patients, why don't hospitals discourage it? Two reasons: 1) It's difficult to legislate or regulate decisions made on judgement, which can be a tough issue with many fuzzy edges, and 2) hospitals made oodles more money from the practice.

If you have a salesman in your new car lot and he outsells all his colleagues by 30-50% and makes you a couple hundred thousand a month more in sales. You've watched him at work and he's clearly good at it. But you suspect that he pushes the envelope of propriety frequently--badgering customers, add rustproofing to a little grandmother's car that will be driven 3000 miles a year, selling cars for prices far above what they would have sold for had the customer bargained more vigorously.
do you put a stop to it at the risk of pushing your star salesman away? Few would.

Only a minority of my colleagues are guilty of this despicable practice. I only know of a few who openly do it. Hopefully, you're not among their patients.

The party’s over

A good number of cardiology colleagues are vigorously bashing the outcome of the COURAGE Trial. Recall that COURAGE is the large clinical trial recently released that showed that, in people with stable angina (chest pains), people did equally well with “optimal medical therapy” as with stents.

The problem is that many of my colleagues wouldn’t know what to do in a world deprived of implanting 10 stents a day. Giving people nitroglycerin/statin drug/aspirin/beta-blocker day after day, week after week, would be an awfully dull world. All the excitement of the cath lab would be a lot more rare. We’d actually have to wait for a heart attack from some dumb smoker! All the money would disappear, too. After all, seeing a patient in the office pays, at best, $200 (and has to be stretched to cover overhead expenses like staff, malpractice insurance, and rent). Putting a stent in can pay $2000, $3000, $4000, often more. Put in several a day and—Wow! Now we’re talking money.

You can understand how upsetting it is to my colleagues who feel like the rug may be pulled out from underneath their practices and lives. Feel as sorry for them as you do for people who lose their jobs on an assembly line because of robotic technology. Or travel agents because everyone makes travel arrangements over the internet. Technology, in this information technology, marches on.

Cardiologists, cath labs, stent manufacturers, and the huge industry built around heart disease had their party. Now it’s time to clean the room and sober up. The party’s over.

The broader acceptance of “optimal medical therapy,” as lame as it is, will eventually open the door for many to demand for something even better. Ever hear of Track Your Plaque?

More on being wheat-free

Reducing or even eliminating the wheat in your diet can dramatically enhance the phenomenon of insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance is the evil process that lies behind low HDL, high triglycerides, small LDL particles, and VLDL and IDL. It’s also the process that makes us tired after meals, heightens inflammation that raises your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and caner. Insulin resistance is the culprit behind the bulge hanging over some 100,000,000 American belts.

Show me a person with a protruding abdomen and I’ll show you a bread lover, or some other form of wheat.

Why do I pick on wheat so much? Many of you among the more nutrition-minded would point out that wheat is just one group of food items among many other high-glycemic index foods, i.e., foods that yield a vigorous surge in blood sugar (glucose), followed by a sharp decline. Wheat enjoys the high-glycemic index company of corn, rice (white and brown), potatoes, among others.

I pick on wheat because, for most Americans, wheat is 90% of the high-glycemic index problem. (I’m assuming you’ve at least eliminated or dramatically reduced highly-processed sweets like candy, cookies, soft drinks, cakes, etc. That’s a no-brainer.) It’s not uncommon to have a wheat-based product with every meal, a wheat-based snack, 7 days a week. But few people have corn products (i.e., corn starch products) three times a day. Or rice three times a day.

Wheat has traded places with saturated fat sources as the chief scourge of diet. In 1985, we had dinners of spare ribs, cheeseburgers, French fries, and butter on our mashed potatoes. Hardly anybody eats that like anymore, at least amongst the web-savvy set.

Wheat has assumed the previous exalted role as chief scourge as a consequence of the low-fat consciousness of the 80s and 90s. It has since ballooned in importance in diet and, as a result, skyrocketed as a cause of obesity, insulin resistance, and coronary plaque growth.

What if you're already slender and have none of the above issues, especially small LDL particles? Then don't sweat the wheat issue.

Note: My comments on being wheat-free should not be confused with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. These are allergies to wheat gluten that, if undiagnosed, wreak havoc on health to extremes. This phenomenon is separate and distinct from the far more prevalent issue I’m discussing.

Can you break the “Rule of 60”

In the Track Your Plaque program, we aim for conventional lipid values (LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides) of 60—60—60, i.e., LDL 60 mg/dl, HDL 60 mg/dl or greater, triglycerides 60 mg/dl. Most participants do indeed reach these target values.

When I tell this to colleagues, they’re stunned. “You can’t possibly get those numbers in most people.” And I can sympathize with their plight. After all, they are stuck with relatively lame tools: statin drugs, the American Heart Association diet. I’d be surprised if they ever achieved 60—60—60.

But can you drop your heart scan score even if you don’t reach the 60—60—60 targets? Yes, you can. The Rule of 60 is only a guideline, a tool that helps more people achieve our goals. The Rule of 60 does not guarantee reversal (drop in heart scan score), nor does not achieving the targets completely destroy your chances.

We have had many people drop their scores even if they haven’t reached the targets. On the other hand, we’ve also had people who failed at first, only to see success once they achieved the 60 mg/dl targets.

But which one are you? That’s the problem. We possess limited capacity to predict who will or who will not drop their scores from the start. We know that there are factors that stack the odds in your favor (e.g., optimism, lack of Lp(a), ideal weight, vitamin D >50 ng/ml, etc.). We know that there are factors that make it tougher (overweight, Lp(a), pessimistic attitude, underappreciated hypertension, higher heart scan scores, etc.) But at the start, we just don’t know who truly needs to adhere to the Rule of 60. So we suggest that everyone, at least in the beginning, aim to achieve it.

I had an exception the other day. Rich did everything by the Track Your Plaque book. However, a starting low HDL of 27 only rose to 37 after one year of effort—way below our 60 mg/dl target. Yet a repeat heart scan showed 23% reduction.

Why would Rich be so successful despite a persistently very low HDL? There may be a number of reasons. One explanation could be that conventional measures of HDL fail to distinguish between what HDLs truly work and what do not. Look at ApoA1 Milano; remember this story? The people in the secluded mountain village of Limone-Sul-Garde in northern Italy have HDL cholesterols of 8-15 mg/dl yet do not experience excess vascular atherosclerosis, suggesting that what little HDL they have is super-effective.

Yes, large HDL seem to be more healthy and effective than small HDL, but perhaps there’s more to it. However, nobody has a HDL effectiveness test ready for us to use.

In the meantime, we continue to suggest that the Track Your Plaque Rule of 60 be considered as a means of making plaque reversal as likely as possible. You and your doctor can always adjust in future, depending on your heart scan score results.

Non-profit hospitals

Hospitals hide behind a veil of non-profit.

Ostensibly operating for the public good, most hospitals enjoy all the business advantages of non-profit status. This means that any profits that flow to the bottom line at the end of the year are not subject to tax. Hospitals point out that profit margins are modest, often ranging from 2-6%.

What they don’t tell you is that, regardless of non-profit status, lots of money can be paid out along the way. A hospital CEO who pays himself $4 million dollars a year can work for this non-profit organization. He can also direct the hospital in business expansion: pharmacies, extended-care facilities, medicine and medical supply distributorships. Your friendly hospital CEO, as well as his many administrators, can hold positions in hospital subsidiaries, complete with salaries and perks.

Yes, most hospitals are officially non-profit. But that’s a designation for tax purposes. It does not mean that hospitals are non-lucrative.

I believe that it’s time for hospitals to drop the façade of “Saint” in their names or other religious names—Methodist, Baptist, Jewish, All Saints’. More accurate would be something like “ABC Medical Enterprises, Inc.” That way, the public would be quicker to recognize that they are dealing with a business run by people eager to make more money.

Wheat five times a day

Terri couldn't understand why her weight wouldn't drop.

At 5'3", 208 lbs., she had the typical mid-abdominal excess weight that went with small LDL, low HDL, high triglycerides, a post-prandial (after-eating) fat clearance disorder, high blood sugar, increased c-reactive protein, and high blood pressure.

She claimed to have tried every diet and all had failed. So we reviewed her current "strict" diet:

"For breakfast, I had Shredded Wheat cereal in skim milk. No sugar, just some cinnamon and a little Splenda. For lunch, I had low-fat turkey breast sandwich--no mayonnaise--on whole wheat bread. For snacks, I had pretzels between breakfast and lunch, and a whole wheat bagel with nothing on it before dinner. For dinner, we had whole wheat pasta with tomato sauce and a salad. While we watched TV, I did have a couple of whole wheat crackers.

"I don't get it. I didn't butter anything, I didn't sneak any sweets, cakes, I didn't even touch cookies. And I love cookies!"

Did you see the pattern? I pointed out to Terri that what she was doing, in effect, was eating sugar 5 or more times a day. Many of her meals, of course, contained no sugar. All were low fat. But the excessive wheat content yielded quick conversion to sugar--glucose--immediately after ingestion.

Repeated surges of blood sugar like this trigger the excessive insulin response that yields low HDL, higher triglycerides, small LDL, etc., everything that Terri had.

Terri was skeptical when I suggested that she attempt an "experiment": Try a four week period of being entirely wheat-free. This meant more raw nuts and seeds, more lean proteins like low-fat yogurt and cottage cheese, chicken, fish, lean red meats, more vegetables and fruits.

After only two weeks, Terri dropped 5 1/2 lbs. She also reported that the mood swings she had suffered, afternoon sleepiness, and uncontrollable hunger pangs had all disappeared. The mental cloudiness that she had experienced chronically for years had lifted.

What happened was that the load of sugar from wheat products, followed by an insulin surge then a precipitous drop in sugar, and finally fogginess, irritability, and cravings for food all disappeared. With it, the entire panel of downstream phenomena (small LDL, CRP, etc.) all faded.

Though she started out intending to complete a four week trial, I believe that, having seen the light, she will continue to be wheat-free, or nearly so, for a lifetime.
Where do Track Your Plaque membership revenues go?

Where do Track Your Plaque membership revenues go?

People pay about $90 per year to become Members on the Track Your Plaque website. This provide access to our in-depth Special Reports, guides, webinars, and our proprietary software data tracking tools. Members can also participate in online discussions, such as those in the Track Your Plaque Forum and chats.

Why is there a charge for membership in the program and where does the money go?

Money raised from membership fees goes towards:

1) The costs of doing business, e.g., server fees, software purchases, legal fees. Hosting webinars, for instance, costs us about $99 per month for the GoToWebinar software service.

2) Software development--Our most recent round of software data tracking tools, for instance, cost us nearly $30,000. That may not be a lot from big business standards, but it is onerous enough that obtaining membership dues really helps.

3) Graphics development--A website without graphics would be awfully dull, regardless of the quality of the textual content. Some of the newest tools on the Track Your Plaque website require photography and graphics work, which can add up very quickly.

Where membership fees do NOT go:

1) In our pockets--In fact, except for the various contractors who are paid for their services (e.g., software developers), NOBODY on the Track Your Plaque staff are paid: not me, nor any of the behind-the-scenes staff. Some of the staff overlap with my office staff, but they are paid purely out of the office revenues, not out of Track Your Plaque membership dues.

2) Towards overhead costs beyond those listed above--For example, membership fees do not pay for office lease, utilities, phones, etc.

We rely on membership fees because we have chosen to remain as free of commercial bias as possible. We host no advertising, we have no behind-the-scenes corporate or institutional agendas, we show no favoritism to any business or commercial operation. We believe this permits editorial freedom that few other health websites can enjoy. (In fact, I know of no other that is so free of commercial bias, outside of small blogs or narrow-interest websites.)

If you want to see what damage commercial bias can create, just go to a health website like WebMD. I challenge you to find information that is not flagrantly biased by commercial influence, namely that of the drug industry. (According to the WebMD SEC filings, in fact, the great majority--approximately 80%--of their $331 million revenues (2007) were derived directly or indirectly from the drug industry.) This commercial bias reaches into all of WebMD's related businesses, including,,, and several others.

Preventing heart disease is not a money maker, sad to say. It is, from the perspective of conventional heart care, a big money loser. Undergo a heart catheterization, hospitalization, stent or bypass for anywhere from $14,000 to well over $100,000---or pay $90 for in-depth health information that dramatically reduces the potential need for the hospital and its procedures, minimizes need for prescription medication (statins alone, of course, are a $27 billion annual revenue phenomenon), and achieves all this by maximizing nutrition, self-purchased nutritional supplements, and inexpensive heart scans. Nobody is going to make a bundle off of this approach.

So that is why we charge a membership fee. I often get a laugh from some of the comments of people on this blog or even in my office who believe that we are rolling in money from the website from membership dues. The opposite is true: We don't pay ourselves. Virtually every penny is reinvested back into the website to better serve the Members.

Comments (9) -

  • steve

    12/26/2008 6:29:00 PM |

    aren't you coming out with a new edition of your book?  Clearly it will be cheaper than a yearly membership, and hopefully will contain all the info. shown on TYP membership site; otherwise it would be in some respects short changing the reader. Why not just buy the updated book to get current info at less expensive price?

  • virginia

    12/27/2008 5:01:00 AM |

    thanks. i have linked you via my blog...found you at fanaticcook.

  • Bob Parks

    12/27/2008 6:20:00 PM |

    you wrote:

    "approximately 80%--of their $331 revenues (2007)"

    That has to be a typo, $331 million maybe?


  • Anonymous

    12/27/2008 6:23:00 PM |

    The dues I've paid to be a TYP member, and the wealth of unbiased and cutting edge information I've derived there from, are  some of the BEST preventive healthcare dollars I could have spent.

    My co-pays for a stay in the hospital or trip to the cath lab could pay for many years of membership in TYP.  My bet is that the information I've derived from Track Your Plaque will keep me away from those scary places... or give me my best shot if I should ever have to go there.

    To my knowledge, there is no other website that provides such a wealth of information, and the tools to use it, for such a low subscription fee.

    Dr. Davis you do an extraordinary job with the TYP website, thank you for all you do!  Your work is sincerely appreciated.

    Happy New Year to you, and to Track Your Plaque website staff and members.

    Houston, TX

  • Richard Nikoley

    12/27/2008 8:25:00 PM |

    For what it's worth, Doc Davis, I never had a doubt.

    Not that it would have mattered anyway. Would that the financial rewards went to those most and not least deserving and that such would be welcomed with open arms by the beneficiaries of your revolutionary, life-saving approach.

    I salute you, sir.

  • Dr. William Davis

    12/29/2008 1:39:00 AM |

    Thanks for catching that, Bob.

  • Anonymous

    12/29/2008 4:34:00 AM |

    Please keep the fee high enough to keep the information unbiased and to keep out those who do not understand the power of the information and would dilute the message.

  • Anonymous

    12/29/2008 5:30:00 AM |

    Steve, the Track Your Plaque book and the Track Your Plaque website are two quite different things.

    I have the first edition of the TYP book (and have given away copies to friends who discovered they have coronary artery disease). I have been a TYP member for some time. I also intend to buy the new edition of the book when it is out (and I will continue to give out copies to people I know who discover they have CAD).

    The new Track Your Plaque book will have Dr. Davis' updated observations, the latest (evolved) version of the program, and more, and should be current, at least as of the date of publication.

    The Track Your Plaque website is both comprehensive and interactive:  The latest aspects of the program are there, as well as extensive information and articles about each aspect of TYP strategies, AND it will be updated over time as new strategies evolve.  In addition there are new interactive tools to track your blood work and tell you how well you are doing with your program and your heart scan scores.  There are also wonderful forums where TYP members can post questions, and receive information and advice from other members, as well as Dr. Davis and some of his staff, in a very supportive atmosphere.

    There is nothing like the TYP membership website, not even a brand new updated edition of the TYP book, and it is, for my money, a bargain.

    Hope this helps!


  • pamojja

    11/15/2009 3:57:47 PM |

    are there other options to join TrackYourPlaque other than with credit cards?

    I don't want to get one for just this purpose, especially not in times of the big credit crunch.

    Thanks for any suggestions.